Precious Stones -Types and Examples of Precious Stones
The beauty of the earth can be noticed in clouds and even the most violent of storms, in colourful birds, creeping insects, patterned butterflies, flowers and clear waters.
Even more, beauty lies in the mystery of objects that don’t breathe, the rainbow, capable of piercing the eyes without an arrow, the empty caves beckoning to be filled without silence, the clouds- chariots of four cardinal winds, sunlight striking the surface of blue oceans, starlight providing companion for earth and sky, then the moon- Earth’s bellybutton.
But what about stones? Are they just as common as those lying on your sidewalk, a weapon for your four-year-old against trespassing mother hen?
Beneath the earth’s surface, a certain chemical reaction takes place alongside the heating and cooling effect of molten magma on the earth surface. This leads to the formation of certain rare and colourful stones known as Precious Stones or Gemstones.
Precious stones are found 3-25 miles beneath the earth surface. Some are found in alluvial deposits and metamorphic rocks. They are mainly used for jewellery, decorative ornaments and in adorning clothes.
Precious stones are distinct due to their rarity (well, if you can’t be there to witness a volcanic eruption, you could as well value the result of its magnificence), hardness, their different colour shades, quality, translucence (brilliance) and crystalline structure. There are four major types of Precious Stones namely Diamond, Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald.
- Diamond as we know is the hardest substance on the earth. It is the only gemstone formed from one element “carbon” and is formed and found very deep in the earth’s crust. In its pure form, it is colourless and transparent. Though impurities may exist which lead to different colours such as black, white, pink, blue and yellow, just to mention a few. Diamond is graded from A – Z based on these colours. They are also usually cut in different shapes, a few which include round, Square, pear shape and heart shapes. The quality of diamonds and all other precious stones are based on their cut, clarity, colour and carats (which are connoted as the 4C’s). Diamonds are found in countries such as South Africa, Russia, Botswana and Canada.
- Ruby and Sapphire are gemstones formed from a mixture of which aluminium is the dominant element. They are a variety of the mineral “corundum”. The Ruby gem stone is blood red in colour due to the presence of chromium, though as a result of impurities these colours may vary from pink, orange-red, purplish-red to even black. Its crystalline structure includes prism, hexagonal and tabular. It is similar to the garnet gemstone, although brighter in colour. Rubies are found in different countries among which are Australia, Brazil, Vietnam, India and Japan.
- The Sapphire is a blue gemstone found in Australia, China, Colombia, Nigeria, Malawi, the United States of America, Rwanda and a few other countries, due to their formation. Though the Sapphire is mainly seen and denoted as the blue gemstone, it also occurs in other colours such as orange-pink, purple, green, gray, and black. Some may have two or more colours in them. A rare Sapphire is the Star Sapphire which is formed naturally as a result of intersecting needle-like inclusions underlying its crystalline structure and arrangement.
- The Emerald is formed from aluminium, beryllium, silicon and oxygen. It is found mainly in volcanic deposits or in metamorphic rock. The Emerald gemstone is green in colour though it may occur in different colours such as yellowish-green, bluish-green and greyish-green. The gem stone is found in different countries as Italy, Germany, Norway, Mozambique, Cambodia, and Tanzania. Emerald naturally has surface-breaking features making them unique.
There are other unmentioned stones formed from these elements; carbon, aluminium, beryllium, and silicon which form the four major types of precious stones but are regarded as semi-precious stones. A few examples are
Also, not all gemstones are formed from minerals. Some are build-up from organic materials, while others are attractive rocks. These are also regarded as semi-precious stones and fall under the numerous general examples of precious stones. A few of these are
- Red coral
These semi-precious stones also vary in colours from red, blue, green, grey, black, purple, orange, yellow, brown, white and pink.
Due to the unavailability of these stones, they are very expensive, therefore some gemstones especially diamonds are industrially made.
A large percentage of Diamonds present in the world today are artificial. Certain kinds of stones, glass and even plastic material are transformed to look like natural gemstones. They are cut, reshaped, processed and treated with different techniques to look like gemstones, but a real gemstone even with its impurities glitters.